This past week, Sesame Street introduced a new character with autism and launched a new website called “Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children”.
This is a bold, exciting step. It’s time we finally dissed the “dis” in disability and see the strengths and gifts people have to offer, regardless of their limitations or challenges.
I have a bit of experience with kids with autism. I remember attending a play group of kids “on the spectrum”. The first week, you could tell the parents sitting on the bleachers were comparing mannerisms and skills of their kids. Some kids had more overt stimming behaviours, movements kids with autism do to self-stimulate. Some were better at the physical activities they had the kids do. Others clearly struggled with speech or making friends.
What was interesting was by the end of the third week, the parents didn’t see this any more. They saw a beautiful little boy Damien, with the most gorgeous smile and sweet disposition. They saw a tall, lanky and athletic girl named Georgia, who had a wonderful heart and tried to help the other kids. They saw past their disabilities to see their abilities and strengths.
As humans, it’s natural for us to like people like us. But those who are different have so much to offer and give.
This week’s #HappyAct is to diss the dis in disability. Fight the impulse to label someone the next time or your child meets someone and thinks they’re “weird” or “different”. Be open to who they truly are. If we can all do this, the world will be a more peaceful, inclusive and happier place.
Ed. Note: As a follow up to last week’s federal election, I was heartened on election night to see the faces of our new members elect of parliament. A record number of visible minorities and women were elected to our new parliament. That in itself is a great outcome.